Royals apparently still on break

By Steve Sell
July 21, 2014

Monday's musings...

• WHAT A DUD — Somebody had better tell the Kansas City Royals that the All-Star break ended on Friday.

Judging from how the Royals sloppily played in a three-game weekend stinker against last-place Boston, it appeared they were still in vacation mode. They may have been there physically, but this was a series that resembled the season-low mental effort when the Houston Astros invaded Kauffman Stadium and embarrassingly pounded the lifeless Royals 21-5 in three games.

Granted, the Royals did lose two of the Boston games by one run. Things were looking good on Friday when supposed ace James Shields was handed a 4-1 lead going into the sixth inning. But he buttered it off his hands, Ned Yost made a horrible managerial move (which he admitted to after the game) and the team never recovered the rest of the weekend.

It wasn't that long ago the Royals were riding high with a 10-game winning streak and alone in first place in the AL Central. But that euphoria lasted only two days and they showed they weren't capable of handling success. They are now in third place and only four games removed from last.

The situational hitting is horrendous as nearly the entire team has gone silent except for Eric Hosmer. And what happened to the defense? It was Keystone Cops all weekend and the normally reliable Alcides Escobar made three errors in three games as it appeared his mind was far, far away. His Gold Glove turned to lead as he clanked easy plays, a couple that were game-changers.

The Royals keep talking about how there's a long way to go and they'll be all right when they play to their capability. But it seems like that's all they do, talk. It's time to start performing. It's time to quit posturing with bad body language like Escobar and especially Billy Butler do. Each time Butler makes an out, he goes into immediate self-pity party mode. 

What started as a promising season is disintegrating into the same old Royals we have come to know for the last 29 years.

• RORY ROARS — We could have seen a passing of the torch this weekend in the British Open.

For more than 15 years, golf has started and stopped with Tiger Woods. He has compiled a career only rivaled by Jack Nicklaus. He is the heartbeat of the tour. When Tiger came along nearly 20 years ago, he brought with him a tidal wave of new fans who basically only are interested when he's playing in the tournament.

But injuries and off-the-course problems have slowed Tiger to a crawl as he chases Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships. Tiger has been stuck on 14 since winning the 2008 U.S. Open on what amounted to a broken leg.

This weekend Tiger energized golf fans with false hope as he shot an opening-round 69. Instead of the field quaking in its boots, it passed him by. In fact, with a final round of 75 on Sunday, Tiger beat only three players in the entire tournament and was 23 shots behind. He finished five shots behind the ageless 64-year-old Tom Watson, who hits the ball about 50 yards less off the tee and has a much shakier putter.

Maybe the most ironic scene of golf's landscape changing occurred Saturday when Woods was finishing up his round, having had to start on the back nine because he was so far back. Instead of the usual throng fighting amongst themselves for the best possible view, Tiger was playing in near anonymity, while the masses were following the leaders on the other nine.

There is only one more major this year, the PGA. Tiger is looking nothing like the golfer that he was and his chances of winning that 15th major next month appear to be slim and none, with slim having taken one step outside the door.

Instead of bemoaning Tiger, we should be celebrating what Rory McIlroy accomplished. He won his third major at the age of 25. Soon, he will be the face of golf while Tiger rides off into the sunset.

• SEC GOING TO BE DOWN? — It's been the SEC and then everybody else in college football for nearly a decade.

Fortunately, Florida State ended the SEC's championship stranglehold by edging Auburn in last year's thrilling championship game.

But could that be a harbinger of things to come? I followed the recent SEC Media Days and it's obvious the conference has graduated a lot of star power. It was a quarterback-driven conference and the top gunslingers (Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray to name just three) have moved on. Super freak Jadeveon Clowney, the NFL's No. 1 draft pick, also is in the SEC's past.

The Big 12, though, is suffering through the same fate. A spate of top quarterbacks have moved on, though Baylor's Bryce Petty and Kansas State's Jake Waters are back.

College football should be fascinating this fall as it appears parity could set in.